WHAT TO SEE, WHAT TO DO
CARTAGENA DE INDIAS
Easily Colombia's most romantic town and a World Heritage Site, Cartagena steals the hearts of visitors with its winding cobblestone streets and flower-draped wrought-iron balconies. Prepare to spend a good deal of time relaxing at outdoor cafes in Cartagena's Old Town, people-watching alongside the locals and facing the prospect of cute-town overload as horse-drawn carriages roll by. Be sure to visit Cartagena's cathedral and the 16th-century Iglesia de Santo Domingo. For a unique -- and typically Colombian -- experience, take a city tour in a chiva, or colorful wooden bus. Being a major tourist destination means Cartagena can be pricier than other Colombian cities. Still, the town offers a variety of budget-friendly accommodation and eating options.
Santa fe de Bogota
These days, Colombia's capital offers travelers a chance to see a sparkling, modern side of Bogota. The city is Colombia's economic capital, and shimmering skyscrapers tower over the town, trendy restaurants line the streets, nightlife options seem endless and high-end shopping abounds. Still, most visitors will want to spend their time exploring historic La Candelaria, a charming neighborhood with an artsy vibe, filled with cafes, museums and churches. In particular, stop by the Museo Botero, dedicated to the Colombian artist Fernando Botero.
After you've explored Bogota's urban center, take a pause and relax in one of the many parks tucked into Bogota's corners, such as Jardín Botánico José Celestino Mutis and the Parque Bolivar. While Bogota has improved by leaps and bounds, there is still a great economic disparity and crime continues to exist; always be aware of your surroundings, particularly after dark.
Pay a visit to a portion of the world's largest rainforest with an Amazon Jungle tour. Leticia, the nearest city from which to reach the rainforest, is a popular jumping-off point into the jungle for many tour operators. Tours often bring visitors to Amacayacu National Park, or take them hiking along one of the many paths from Leticia into the jungle, such as one which leads to the Tanimboca reservation where tall platforms were built overlooking the jungle canopy. Boat trips down nearby rivers lead into more isolated reaches of the jungles where visitors can encounter remote Indian villages.